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Unlockd founder Matt Berriman slams Google for ‘unlawful’ behaviour

Founder of defunct adtech company Unlockd, Matt Berriman, has slammed Google and buyers of the failed business’ assets in an online post.

In the article, Berriman accused Google of unlawful and anti-competitive behaviour, while claiming buyers of the company’s technology assets had been scared off by the Silicon Valley giant with successful bidders taking advantage of the Unlockd’s parlous state.

Unlockd founder Berriman

Since being founded in 2014, Unlockd has raised $68m from investors including Lachlan Murdoch, former Seven Group CEO Peter Gammell and Catch of the Day founders Hezi and Gabby Leibovich.

Unlockd displayed ads on Android users’ smartphone lock screens in return for loyalty rewards, but Google said the service breached the terms and conditions of AdMob and Google Play, so threatened to suspend it.

In May, Unlockd won an injunction in the UK High Court preventing Google from banning the service, however the company expressed disappointment at the limited scope of the UK ruling.

Unlockd then went into administration in June, claiming Google’s attempts to ban the company from its mobile advertising platforms had crippled the business.

At the time of going into administration, the company said that, despite wins in the UK and Australian courts, its dispute with Google had scared off investors which prevented Unlockd from raising further capital.

Now, in his most recent post, Berriman has claimed that the dispute with Google had scared potential bidders for the business off, writing: “A fear of Google and its potential imposition on acquirers and the contracted time frame in which the voluntarily administration process failed to allow larger corporate companies to conduct a regular M+A process, the true value of the technology assets that we had proven was there has been substantially eroded.

“At some time in the near future after final bids are tabled to administrators tomorrow it will be announced that the technology assets have been acquired by a party (or parties) who have taken advantage of that commercial situation, for a tiny amount of the cost of capital that’s been invested.”

Berriman warned in the post that he and his fellow Unlockd shareholders are considering continuing their legal battle with Google.

“However, importantly by de-merging the technology assets from the company and litigation my fellow Unlockd shareholders and I have all retained our litigation rights to pursue damages for the significant financial losses that Google has caused,” Berriman wrote.

“Bleeding a small company out may have been a strategy to squash competition and win the first battle, however now with litigation funding being finalized as we decide on which of the multiple parties have offered to fund us, we will now have the resources to fight for our shareholders for as long as required, to return the value that is rightfully ours. We may have lost this battle, but certainly not the war.”

Berriman, who stepped down from Unlockd’s management in February due to mental health issues, signed off his post on a positive note: “On a personal note, the last few months have been extremely challenging and I can’t be more thankful for my family, friends, the Unlockd family and many of you who are reading this that have been a constant support to me professionally and personally.”

Mumbrella has contacted Berriman, Google and Unlockd’s administrators, McGrathNicol, for comment.

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